[[quoteright:320:[[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/simpsons_news_1845.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:320:[[AffablyEvil It's not that horrible]].]]

->''"Gentlemen. Since you are about to die anyway, I [[LampshadeHanging may as well]] [[JustBetweenYouAndMe tell you the entire plot]]! Think of villains, Jack. You want Literature/{{Dracula}}? Dra-cool-la? Hang on, (takes out the [[PlotCoupon ticket]]) I'll fetch him. Dracula? Huh. I can get Film/KingKong! We'll have a [[Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet nightmare with Freddy Krueger]], have a surprise party for UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler; [[Literature/TheSilenceOfTheLambs Hannibal Lecter]] can [[ImAHumanitarian do the catering]], and then we'll have a christening for Film/RosemarysBaby! All I have to do is snap my fingers and they'll be here. They're lining up to get here, and do you know why, Jack? Should I tell you why? Hmm? Because [[ThisIsReality here, in this world]], '''the bad guys can win!'''"''
-->-- '''Benedict''', ''Film/LastActionHero''
%% One quote per page, please. Additional quotes can go on the Quotes tab.

We're all used to [[TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin heroes winning out over the bad guys]]. The bad guys get theirs, justice is done, and the heroes walk away happy. Sometimes [[BittersweetEnding things are a little more bittersweet]], but we at least expect the villain to lose in the end. One can even get away with a DownerEnding where it ends badly for the heroes, but many of these kinds of endings are "nobody wins" affairs where everybody pays the price ([[KillEmAll fatally]] or not). Even if the villain wins in these kinds of endings, it's usually [[PyrrhicVillainy at great enough personal cost to the villain that he or she is utterly ruined as a result]].

Not so with this ultimate of {{Downer Ending}}s. The Bad Guy Wins is ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: complete and ultimate triumph for the villain, and complete and utter devastation (frequently with [[TheHeroDies death]] or [[FateWorseThanDeath worse]]) for the hero or heroes who dared to oppose them. A bad guy who wins is a KarmaHoudini by definition, and such endings can frequently be [[ShootTheShaggyDog depressing as all get out]] -- even more so than your regular DownerEnding. When this trope is parodied, it is the happy ending stuck on for the villain instead which is despairingly from the hero's perspective.

History has plenty of examples of this trope, especially in stories of failed rebellions against a powerful empire or recountings of real life tragedies. But in Fictionland, when this kind of ending shows up, it's often used either as a [[SequelHook hook for a sequel]] that will give the hero (or a new hero) the chance to succeed where they failed in the first one, or as a way of showing how much of an utter, hopeless CrapsackWorld that the characters live in -- particularly in the case of {{Dystopia}}s, where it serves as a warning to those living in the here and now not to let this kind of thing happen for real. There can be any number of other reasons for the bad guy winning: simply for the sake of a twist ending (especially in horror stories, which are often most effective if they leave the audience with a hugely emotionally negative final shock); out of the writer's desire to be original or to throw in a new twist to keep things fresh or unpredictable; or just because the writer couldn't find any other way to end the story which suited them. Sometimes it may all just be part of a BlackComedy anyway.

DoomedByCanon often requires this trope. If the BigBad's {{backstory}} involves the Big Bad attaining all kinds of success to get him or her [[StartOfDarkness into the position that started the story]], the {{Prequel}} requires him or her to win -- and [[KillEmAll kill off any major characters]], no matter how sympathetic, who do not make it to the sequel. More generally, {{Villain Protagonist}}s will benefit from this trope, particularly in video games where the player takes on the role of a bad guy.

Some stories may attempt to use this trope, yet still try to soften the blow. Perhaps the villain's goal is [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans ultimately a good thing]]. Or the heroes are really NotSoDifferent after all (especially true if they're VillainProtagonist characters up against a 'good' antagonist) and [[AssholeVictim their loutish behavior keeps us from feeling too sorry for them]]. Another variant is for the villain to create a VillainWorld that the heroes must topple in a future story.

In cases when the hero was particularly well-liked or the villain particularly hated, the audience may call for a sequel in which the villain gets a proper comeuppance. Or lacking that, they may decide to [[FixFic write their own]].

The sixth form of YouAreTooLate is one technique to bring this about. Another technique to invoke this is to form a XanatosGambit: the villain wins ''something'' regardless of whether the heroes foil their EvilPlan or not. A LastStand commonly features them.

Doing this too often or having this happen almost inevitably will result in InvincibleVillain.

See also: DownerEnding, KarmaHoudini, IndustrializedEvil, and ShootTheShaggyDog. {{Dystopia}}s often end this way. Compare TeamRocketWins. Contrast TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin. Can overlap with GodwinsLawOfTimeTravel. May be considered a form of YouCantThwartStageOne if it happens in a serial work. Also compare MeaninglessVillainVictory, in which The Bad Guy Wins, but the victory is rendered hollow or meaningless or actually becomes a defeat due to some technicality or unforeseen chance.

Compare PyrrhicVillainy when the villain's victory came at a great cost.

Also, since this is an EndingTrope, there are '''[[color:red:massive spoilers]]''' on this page.


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